Tuesday, June 28, 2011

nukes and fire don't mix

We've got a bunch of wildfires going on around here. On June 18th I had a party to celebrate my one year anniversary in Santa Fe. That afternoon on my way to buy ice, I saw a huge smoke plume in the mountains. This was the start of the Pacheco fire, 2 miles from the Santa Fe ski area. It was, and is, a serious fire, only 15% contained at this point. The road up the mountain has been closed at mile marker 9, and smoke has filled the air. The fire destroyed power lines and threatens the watershed.

I took a photo of the smoke plume on Saturday, a week after it had started. This was taken from the riverwalk that we walk on several times a day. Of course there's no water in the river but that's another story.

Sunday a fire broke out not far from Los Alamos and spread with lightning speed, tripling in size in one night. This fire is called the Las Conchas fire which apparently started on private land, and the size and scale of it are frightening. It's currently over 90 square miles, almost twice as large as a terrible fire that destroyed many homes and forest land in 2000, the Cerro Grande fire. That fire burned 47,000 acres at the Bandelier National Monument, and destroyed 100 buildings including some at the lab complex. The forest still hasn't recovered from that fire, which started with a controlled burn that quickly got out of control.

The town of Los Alamos has been evacuated- 12,000 people. And the nuclear lab in Los Alamos is less than a mile from the fire's edge. So far they've been able to keep the fire from spreading to the labs and burning toxins that are stored there. It's a big story, carried by media all over the world. Just enter Los Alamos fire into google or twitter and see what I mean. These photos are from The Atlantic:

The sunsets we've been having with all this smoke in the air have been both eerie and beautiful. Fortunately for us down here in SF, the smoke and fire are spreading north, but we've still got bad air quality. Today I went to the gym to run instead of doing it outside.

A friend who listens to Amy Goodman (I do sometimes, but find it so depressing) said that today a guy who serves as a watchdog of sorts for the lab was on the show, and he said that if New Mexico seceded from the US, that it would represent the third largest nuclear power in the world. That's how much we've got in nukes around here. Of course, LANL is where the bomb was invented. They still employ thousands of people, toiling away at various ways of hitting atoms together to do stuff, good and bad I suppose, depending on your POV. They developed the metal for Nambe objects there. I don't know what else goes on. It's very very mysterious.

I worry most about the 4th of July coming up. We have fields behind our houses where kids like to set off fireworks, and this year that could be disastrous. Not sure what to do about it. Our esteemed governor says she doesn't have the authority to make fireworks illegal- this has to be a legislative act, and the legislature meets for about three days in May I think.

Monday, June 13, 2011

An unanswerable question

I'm in a show opening this weekend here in Santa Fe called Mining the Unconscious. Here is the digital invitation.

This was the result of an open call to artists who are working with the idea of the unconscious and is supposed to have something to do with Jung's Red Book, which is an amazing piece of work. There is a new reproduction of it (the original is sort of a sketchbook he created) and it's way expensive, otherwise I'd buy one. The link takes you to Amazon to buy it if you want. It also has some images from it. I decided to enter my burned Freud book pages, since they are his Interpretation of Dreams, and these were accepted for the show.

They've decided to have some panel discussions on the show themes and they asked me to moderate one called "Why do Artists Make Art?" Why DO artists make art? It's a crazy question. I wonder if people really wonder about it. Because artists sure don't. I was telling a friend about the panel and he said artists sell art to buy beer. But not all artists sell their work. In fact I read that only 20% of the people who call themselves artists (this must be on a census or something) make their living from it. I think even that is a high estimate.

I'll have to do some research on theories. I used to live next to a psychoanalyst who had a lot of artist patients and who had written books on this. He said that artists are mastering form to work through past traumas. I do know that for me, just making stuff makes me feel better, even if it doesn't work. And another artist once told me his son was just like him, always "making stuff." So I think my former neighbor has a point, it's about mastering form, but maybe it's about control in general and the feeling of accomplishment when you end up with something fine and interesting.

I may have to post the question on Facebook to see if I get some answers.